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Kerala not to reduce fuel prices; Cong, BJP warn of protest

A battle royale is on the cards as Kerala Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal ruled out that the state government will not reduce taxes on petroleum products after the Centre handed a Diwali gift to the nation and out came the daggers when the BJP and Congress state presidents warned that strong protests will break out.

Following the reduction effected by the Centre, petrol price per litre came down by Rs 12.27 while diesel prices fell by Rs 6.30 and the average price of one-litre petrol in the state was Rs 103.80 and diesel stood at Rs 91.59 per litre.

Speaking to the media here on Thursday Balagopal said the Centre has only reduced a very minimum rate and we are not going to reduce it as the state is passing through huge financial stress.

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“What has happened is the Centre has done what a pickpocket does. After picking the pocket of a person, he then gives back the bus fare and that’s what the Centre has done. Kerala is passing through tough times and hence we are unable to reduce,” said Balagopal.

State Congress president K. Sudhakaran said even though the Centre’s decision came a bit late, we welcome it.

“We warn the state government, here, if they fail to do a matcher, then it will be strongly dealt. Hitherto if our protests against rising fuel prices was against the Centre, from now on, if the state government doesn’t do it, it will see huge protests by us,” said Sudhakaran.

State BJP president K. Surendran said all through the Kerala government was blaming the Centre for the fuel prices and now that they have done it, the Kerala government has to follow suit.

“The State Finance Minister should keep his word as he had earlier said, if the Centre reduces, the state will follow, but if that doesn’t happen, then it could be difficult for us to sit idle. We will launch a massive protest,” said Surendran.

And with the assembly session in progress, if Balagopal fails to revise his decision, starting Monday, Kerala could well see a huge protest.

Economist Mary George said, the Pinarayi Vijayan government has nothing to fear as elections are not round the corner, while nationally for the BJP things are not like that as crucial polls are coming up in a few big states and hence it was due to that, there was a downward revision.